U.S. COO Nicole Cornish exits Burson-Marsteller

She joined the firm in 2002, then rose through the ranks at Burson and grassroots agency Direct Impact.

Nicole Cornish
Nicole Cornish

WASHINGTON: Burson-Marsteller U.S. COO Nicole Cornish has departed the firm.

Cornish, who had worked at Burson in various roles since 2002, decided to exit the agency to "embrace her next challenge," according to an internal memo penned by U.S. CEO Mike Fernandez. Cornish will continue to work with Burson as a senior counselor to key clients.

Burson is not searching for a replacement.

"It’s impossible to list all of the accomplishments and contributions [Cornish] has made to the firm," Fernandez wrote in the memo. "She has been a friend, mentor, and confidant to many and has truly embodied the spirit of what it means to be a Burson Person."

Cornish joined Burson as a manager in the firm’s brand marketing practice in 2002 and moved to Burson’s grassroots public affairs subsidiary Direct Impact a year later. She rose to CEO of Direct Impact before taking the U.S. COO role at Burson in 2014.

"I’m starting a new chapter and taking a leap out on my own. I’m very excited to hang my own shingle to give me the flexibility to explore a lot of new projects and new partnerships," Cornish said, via email. "I’m also very grateful to Burson for all the support over the last 15 years and look forward to continuing to partner with them in the future."

Burson has made several senior appointments in the past two months. The firm upped Fernandez, who joined in September as chair of its global corporate and financial practice, to U.S. CEO earlier this month. It also appointed Joel Benenson, former chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, as worldwide vice chair in January. The WPP firm named Kevin Bell worldwide president a month earlier.

Helaine Klasky also joined the firm as chair of its U.S. public affairs and crisis practice this month. MSLGroup veteran Kyle Farnham is set to join the agency as chair of the U.S. consumer and brand marketing practice at the start of next month.

This story was updated on January 27 with additional information and quotes from Cornish.

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